Friday, July 30, 2010

Come let us reason together...

Wise words from my colleague and friend Tom Schade:

It is useful to remember that being in the United States without having gone through the proper immigration procedures is NOT a crime. It is a civil offense, handled outside the criminal justice system, which is why deportation rather than a jail sentence is called for. The undocumented person has been found guilty of nothing. Calling them "illegal" is a deliberate obfuscation.

An undocumented person who is accused of committing a crime deserves not deportation but appropriate legal sanctions -- arrested, indicted, arraigned and tried before a jury. If found guilty, sent to prison or fined.

What to do with an undocumented person who is accused of no crime? There are all sorts of suggested procedures for this and they are the subject of immigration reform legislation. That legislation is stalled because the GOP will let nothing move forward that has any suggestion of "amnesty" in it.

Further, "amnesty" is a useful political club, not to be used against immigrants, because everyone knows that we cannot deport 11-12 million people without igniting civil unrest, but against the real objects of conservative anger: liberals and liberalism. The immediate motivation behind SB1070 is the belief that the reason why there is "illegal immigration" is because "liberals won't get tough enough to enforce the law." Hence REQUIRING police to check immigration status, criminalizing assisting undocumented workers, banning 'sanctuary' cities. The law is a wedge issue to split the white population and isolate liberals. Maintaining white unity in the midst of the demographic changes of the country is the key to maintaining the status quo; and so, liberals must be isolated and demonized.

As religious liberals, we have a duty to defend our essential points of view: that political and policy problems like immigration and labor, are just that: problems that are to be solved through creative conversation and compromise; that everyone has worth and dignity, that racially based policies and procedures are immoral, as well as ineffective, and that scapegoating the innocent for the sins of all is the oldest form of religious malpractice that there is. We can no more fix our immigration system by punishing the immigrant than we can promote healthy sexual practices by punishing unmarried mothers than we can stabilize marriage by denying to gays and lesbians.

Every complex problem has many proposed solutions, and in this country, at least one of them involves scapegoating, demonization and some sort of oppression. That solution is always wrong and somebody has to say so. I am proud that we have enough sense of ourselves and our mission to say so in this circumstance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this clear statement.
Lois Reborne
lay leader
UU fellowship of West Plains, MO.